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Oct 25, 2011 08:19 PM

Torrisi- nothing special to me

Got there at 5:30 and was lucky to only have 9 people ahead of me and a few reserved for later times, allowing for me to get the first 6pm table. Well, counter next to the door but at least I got in.

Overall, I didn't find the food to be all that special, with the exception of the mozzarella and the goat cheese gnocchi with cauliflower. The mozzarella was really outstanding. Large pillow sitting in a pool of delicious olive oil. Combined with the garlic bread it was heaven in my mouth. The goat cheese gnocchi were delicious also. However, you got 6. 6 gnocchi. I could have eaten 16 and it could have used a little more cauliflower and sauce. I felt like the portions were elf sized. Two of the "antipasti" were more like amuse bouches and had no place in the meal. The radishes were literally 4 shavings of radish with some butter. The radish dish was puzzling because it did not resemble anything Italian. And the mackerel was a thimble of fish with some eggplant. Neither were special. The last antipasti was a veal "shank" with bean salad and bone marrow. This was a small strip of braised veal shank which was tasty. You can't go wrong with bone marrow and the salad was refreshing but again nothing to go nuts over.

When ordering the waiter said the duck was cooked medium. I specified to him I'd like it cooked extra rare if possible and he said it wouldn't be an issue at all. Naturally, My duck was an overcooked 2 ounce slab, which was sent back. When the replacement came out it was still overcooked and quite tough (even after I saw them bring the dish to show the chef behind the counter for his approval which he OKd before serving me the new plate). At that point I just ate it and cut my losses there. If there is anything I hate it is when a restaurant cannot cook meat to temperature you specify. My biggest pet peeve, especially since this is something that a decent home cook can master quite easy. I can let certain things go but that is not one. And then when the new plate comes back looking pretty much exactly the same as the original flop that is unacceptable. Fool me once shame on me, fool me twice shame on you.

Dessert were more like mignardises. I have gotten more petit fours at places like EMP, Gotham, Daniel, etc. after I have had 10 course feasts. Here they give you 4 different little pastries including a seven layer, mini cannoli, butternut squash carrot cake, and chocolate celery cake. Good for a little sweet treat but again nothing incredible.

Service was extremely friendly throughout, if a little absentee. It certainly is not the most comfortable dining environment which I came in expecting. They sat me at the counter right next to the door and I felt like I was intruding on the table next to me for the 2 hours I was there. I didn't feel like staring at the window the whole time so I turned my body to face the dining room at times and felt awkward because the guy at the next table was grilling me the whole time. Also, I am not sure if it was because I was alone or in the corner but it seemed like everyone was getting served before me. Every course that came out seemed to hit the other tables first, regardless of whether or not they were seated before me. Maybe this format works for some, but for me it didn't. I like having choices and obviously at Torrisi the only one you have is the main course (and only 2 at that). I kind of felt like I was at a family party or a wedding. You know, how everyone gets served the same food pretty much at the same time. Except I was at the kiddie table that gets everything last.

All said it came to over $65 with tip and I didn't leave full. Not to say I want to feel uncomfortably stuffed when I eat but I'd like to be satisfied. Still, I knew what I was getting myself into as far as the menu and I am glad I went on this night because I got to try the two dishes I wanted to. Glad to have the experience. But I think once was enough for me....for dinner at least. I think I would definitely come to try their sandwiches during lunch hours.

Torrisi Italian Specialties
250 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

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  1. Very good report as usual, steak. Sorry that it was a disappointment.

    1 Reply
    1. re: RGR

      Eh, no biggie. I have been eating out long enough to know not every place is going to be mind blowing delicious. You know what they say- on to the next one!

      1. thanks for the review! I had been wondering whether to include this on my short list for my upcoming trip. good info!

        1. Glad to read this so I have an excuse to not go. I'm not one for waiting in lines and not being able to eat to my heart's content (and stomach's pain)
          I do think their sandwiches and Italian American offerings are good so I will be curious about Parm.

          As for "cook meat to temperature you specify ... especially since this is something that a decent home cook can master quite easy", doesn't seem that way every time I watch Hell's Kitchen.

          1 Reply
          1. re: fooder

            Which is a poor reflection on the skills or lack thereof for the cooks on that show. It's inexcusable.

          2. i slept on torrisi for awhile before going to dinner last month. maybe expectations were too high but i felt it was rather fairly major amazing food. i felt like the service was completely half-ass...trying to balance a high end meal with a 'neighborhood' comfortable setting.

            i had some standout items...the clam linguine with shishito peppers and the lamb entree i had were quite good but it barely compensated for the small portions and general sense that you were eating from an assembly line.

            11 Replies
            1. re: sam1

              Right. It's not that it's bad. It's that it's nothing special -- yet the food press calls the food "poetry". WTF?

              1. re: Sneakeater

                Seems like we have similar opinions on the entire experience. Small portions, assembly line, half assed service- check, check, ehh semi check. I found them friendly but again not overly attentive and seemingly off pace. The price wasn't bad but again I don't mind paying for quality. Thank god it is only $50 though. Anything more and I'd have felt ripped off. I think they excel at the pastas but other than that ... nothing great.

                1. re: steakrules85

                  I only disagree insofar as, for the price, I couldn't complain about the portion sizes.

                  I still wonder what's supposed to be so great about the food, though.

                  1. re: Sneakeater

                    A very good question. Maybe the more common reactions are related to the whole reservation thing. Since people are forced to make an unusual effort to eat there, once they do, most of them feel they have to rave about the food. Otherwise, they end up seeming foolish for having gone to such great lengths to eat food that is anything less than than fabulous.


                    1. re: RGR

                      Nah, there are a number of restaurants that are difficult to obtain a reservation (Per Se, EMP, Momofuku Ko); those who really don't like the restaurant don't hesitate to voice their unhappiness (probably compounded by the difficulty in obtaining the reservation in the first place).

                      1. re: ellenost

                        ellenost, In my view, there's a huge difference between attempting to get a reservation either through an on-line system or by phoning as opposed to a restaurant requiring that you actually *show up* in order to have only a chance of getting a table.

                        I think complaints in upscale restaurants such as the ones you mention are based more on the quality of the cuisine relative to the high cost rather than on the difficulty of reserving.


                      2. re: RGR

                        I actually agree with you on this sentiment. It is definitely something in the back of your mind. Going through the trouble because you feel it will be worth the hassle, and when you are let down it hurts even more.

                        You find yourself thinking... In a city with so many incredible restaurants (most of which accept reservations on Opentable or at least do not have so many restrictions) why should I have to go through such trouble to eat there when the food is less than rave-worthy?

                        1. re: RGR

                          I agree with you, RGR. The food is good, service is fine, price is appropriate for the amount of food, but when you go through the hassle of getting a table, you expect to have your mind blown. I happen to love it, but I also live around the block so getting a table isn't a big deal for me.

                          1. re: Barcelonian

                            Barcelonian, let us know about Parm when it opens in a few days, and also the upcoming $125 tasting menu at Torrisi (for which you can make reservations).


                            248 Mulberry St, New York, NY 10012

                          2. re: RGR

                            Yes, this is a known psychological phenomenon.
                            It is called cognitive dissonance. They have done experiments on very similar concepts. The mind has problems dealing with the inconsistency.

                            1. re: fooder

                              true...which also explains the amazing success of chain restaurants/franchises